Lanie LeBlanc OP
Carol & Dennis Keller
Brian Gleeson CP
Paul O'Reilly SJ
reflection can be here!)
Sun. 33 B
The readings this week remind us that the liturgical year
is about to come to a close. They also give a description
about the end times. It is a good thing that Mark reports in
today's Gospel : "But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the
Father." Given the state of the world today, "the time"
might seem much too close if we knew... and then what panic
In Daniel's vision we read/hear "it shall be a time
unsurpassed in distress". Sounds a lot like what the people
engulfed in the wildfires in California or those still
struggling in Florida to find food, clothing, and shelter
after Hurricane Michael are feeling. Those are just two
quick but painful glimpses into extreme distress here in the
US; there are many other places in the world which match
this rather scary description.
Yet, the sun still rose this morning and set or will set
this evening. How do we and those we care about most survive
the emotional toll these and other horrendous events,
global, local or personal, take on our lives? I wish I had a
more specific answer than the one I repeat to myself.
My answer is a mix of "all will be well", "this too shall
pass" , and many short prayers throughout the day. The
Memorare has again emerged as a favorite prayer. I savor
moments of happiness and add them to my unwavering sense of
joy, joy in the Redemption and that "people shall escape,
everyone who is found written in the book."
We are told to live in the present, yet, to do that
prayerfully we must look at the past and the future as well.
There just are times when the present is beyond horrendous.
We must look at past times of rejoicing to find similar
times in the now and hope for the future.
My granddaughter celebrated a birthday this weekend with
family and friends, called her Great Uncle to wish him a
Happy Veteran's Day, was notified she won an archdiocesan
essay contest, and served as an altar server for the first
time. Today though she is really sad about some things
happening at school, concerned about some illnesses in the
family, and is over-tired and grumpy! She is looking forward
to Thanksgiving Break next week with no stress or
deadlines... and she is just 10! How can she not combine
past, present, and future to emerge less grumpy and more
like her usual joyful self?
I don't know the "right" answer to that one either but I
have a plan. I think it is a plan for all of us. I think we
all need to "breathe", remember how much we are loved and
cared for by the Father, and put everything else on hold for
a bit. Then we can look for prayerful solutions to the
things that affect us most and pray that other folks will
receive help they need with those things that impact them
the most as well. When we are more like ourselves, we can
turn to help others. Pretty soon, the turmoil will subside
and we (the real us) will again emerge. Focusing on the good
will help outweigh the not-so-good, always and forever!
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc
Thirty Third Sunday of Ordered Time November 18
Daniel 12:1-3; Responsorial Psalm 16; Letter to the
Hebrews 10: 11-14 & 18; Gospel Acclamation 21:36; Mark
Many, many years ago now, when I was still a child I
recall hearing a reading from the book of Revelation, the
final book of the Christian Scriptures. This John who fled
the persecution of Nero in Rome found himself on the island
of Patmos and there had a series of horrific visions. The
pastor preached on the horrors of the end of the world. We
had just experienced – even though at a great distance – the
terrors of World War II. Several young men from our rural
Ohio parish died there, including one who days before he
left for boot-camp carved his initials on a huge maple tree
in our woods. He died on the beaches of Normandy – they
never found his body. So I thought of that tree as his grave
marker and visited it each time I was playing in the woods.
Those were terrible days. The first use of atomic bombs
happened then. It was thought to be a good thing as it ended
the war with Japan. Those were frightening days for kids and
parents. It seemed like the end of the world. When the war
was over and survivors returned home, "we were like men
dreaming." It wasn’t so much that good triumphed over evil
but that we had survived.
The first reading from Daniel makes us think again of the
perilous state of our world. There is great uncertainty
about our future. Millions of families and individuals are
leaving their homes, fleeing violence that threatens their
daughters and sons. The lack of economic opportunity forces
thousands to leave their traditions, their culture, their
languages, their religion, and their ancestral homes. It’s
as though the whole world seethes with constant pain and
anxiety. St. Paul likens this to the pain of a woman giving
birth. He says that creation itself struggles to bring about
the birth and fullness of the Kingdom of God.
I’ve read that military planners are strategizing to
prepare for the next great conflict. Their planning is based
on the effects of climate change. Projections into the
future forecast the loss of significant amounts of arable
land on which to grow food. Pure water needed for life is
rapidly becoming polluted and lost to industrialization. The
next great world war will not be about nationalism or even
about shrinking supplies of fossil fuel energy. It will be
about food and water.
The reading from Daniel presents a bleak forecast for the
rulers of the once great Babylon. Their kingdoms will crash
into meaningless heaps of rubble at the hands of future
invaders. The vitality of city states will be stolen by
internal dissention and untruth. Conquers would soon crush
opposition swiftly and mercilessly.
In the gospel reading, we recognize two applications for
the prophecy Jesus gives to his disciples. There is a
warning about what is about to happen to him as he enters
the city, Jerusalem. The sudden change in the acceptance of
Jesus by the people will shock and shatter the hopes of the
disciples. Jesus foresees his destruction at the hands of
the Romans. His death is the result of the protocol of the
world that denies and hates the way of living that Jesus
teaches. His way liberates the oppressed through healing.
His life models how to live the truth of human existence. In
just a few years, Jesus made a commanding impression on
those who followed him. His Way liberates those who hope in
him from the desperation revealed in apocalyptic prophecies.
Those who follow and live the Way of Jesus may suffer and
even die but will never lose the gift of forever life. There
are more challenging conflicts to human life than the
conflicts imposed by thieves, charlatans, and despots.
The two readings are a form of biblical literature called
apocalyptic. The word, apocalypse, means to uncover, to
reveal. That form of writing presents in mysterious language
a vision of the battle between good and evil. Those
revelations are given to prophets either in fantastic
visions initiated by God or by voices of angels. It intends
to expose the meaning of past and present history. It uses
past and present to speak about the ultimate and future
establishment of God’s messianic kingdom. The evil in the
world is the cause of the terrible events written. The
ravaging, raging power of nature is unleashed on the world
and its inhabitants because of the abuse mankind heaped on
nature. Instead of caring and assisting nature in productive
abundance, humanity has robs it of its energy to produce
what is needed by living beings to flourish. The cycles of
nature are subverted and misdirected. Great storms, great
fires, great earthquakes, great shifts in tectonic plates
are the result. The land no longer produces food;
desertification is spreading at an alarming rate. Streams
and rivers dry up or become polluted with the waste. Evil
seems to have triumphed and visited the effects of greed and
despotism on the citizens of the earth.
Do we recognize the face of evil in our world, in our
time? Do we concede our habits of living, our culture, our
faith to forces that expand the power of evil? Do we make an
effort to discern good from bad?
The prophecy of Jesus about his impending death is clear.
He is going to his death, never surrendering his message to
the way the world thinks of human life. Some forty or so
years after his death Rome grew tired of constant Jewish
rebellions. Jerusalem was reduced to ruins. The temple was
burnt and destroyed leaving only the West Foundational Wall
as a reminder of what once was. Christians recalled the
prophecy of Jesus and left the city before it came under
siege. In Jesus warning in this Sunday’s gospel, the Jewish
Christians recognized the "fig tree" sprouting. They
understood it as predicted the season of horror rapidly
descending on Jerusalem. As a group they escaped because
they understood the signs of the times and heeded the
warning in Jesus’ prophecy as relevant to their condition.
In the apocalyptic narrative in Daniel, the Persian
Empire under Cyrus the Great destroyed the power of
Babylonian slave masters. The sieges of Babylon and its city
states were devastating and horrific. The streets of those
cities ran with the blood of men, women, and children and
all living animals. When the Romans captured Jerusalem no
person was spared. Anyone found living was slaughtered. The
once proud city on Zion’s hill was a smoking ruin.
So what is the message God imparts to us in these
prophecies of doom and destruction? Is God merely trying to
scare the hell out of us, force us through fear to repent of
whatever evil we hold in our hearts? If we look at these
readings this week-end in the light of next Sunday’s
celebration of Christ the King, we’ll have an answer. Evil
will continually try to conquer our hearts and minds. Evil
wants us to believe there is nothing besides itself. We
should all join in its violence, its violation of the human
spirit, and live only for ourselves. Evil takes hold of
humanity and humanities leadership to destroy faith in the
Creator God who loves us. It shouts even now as it did on
Calvary, "if God loves him, let him come and take him down
from this cross!" Those who choose evil ridicule the
followers of conscience, the followers of the way of Jesus,
and those open to God’s loving kindness. They think the
faithful who hope in the Lord are weak, lacking in backbone,
holding onto myths and legends for their salvation. Violence
is their convincing argument.
The apocalyptic narratives in both Hebrew and Christian
Scriptures expose the purposes of what is evil. It is to rob
us of hope in God’s love for creation. Evil would have us
lose our faith in God’s abiding presence. The narratives
insist evil will never win in God’s time. Even though the
faithful may appear to be dead, they continue to live in the
heart and mind of God. And it is in the heart and mind of
God that all things have life.
God is God of history. Whatever evil attempts, it will
ultimately lose. Just as the reach of the Kaiser’s armies in
World War I were ultimately defeated; just as the Third
Reich ultimately failed to achieve its thousand years
domination with Aryan supremacy; just as the imperialism of
Hiro Hito was ultimately crushed, so also God will triumph.
That is our hope; there lies our faith in the presence of
God with us; there is the basis and strength with which we
love one another. We learn how that love works by
understanding the history of many thousands of years of
God’s effective presence. The Kingdom of God will ultimately
flourish and thrive. That reign will be forever.
Let us not be fearful. Let us live the hope that is ours
in the Ministry, Death, and Resurrection of one of our own
who is also God’s own. May his Spirit inspire us and lead us
to safety in this ongoing battle against what is evil in our
THE PASSION OF THE EARTH: 33RD SUNDAY B
We've all heard, and heard with sadness, of the Passion
of Jesus Christ. We are well aware of our own sufferings,
and to some extent the sufferings of whole populations of
people such as those in Myanmar, Syria and Iraq. What we
need to become far more conscious of, however, is the
passion of Mother Earth, the one and only planet inhabited
by human beings, the one and only place where human beings
can live, the one and only place where God has put us.
Tragically, as a result of massive industrialization, our
earth, is being exploited, assaulted, ravaged and destroyed
at a rate unprecedented in history. For me, ‘the time of
distress’ mentioned by Jesus in his gospel prophecy today,
is the distress of the earth at the present time, and the
distress of the peoples of the earth who, more than ever
before, are asking questions of survival and sustainability:
‘Is it all over, Red Rover? Or is there anything we can do
to save God’s good and beautiful world, not only for
ourselves, but for all the generations of human beings who
will come after us?’
Consider just a few facts about the damage that has been
inflicted and continues to be inflicted on the finite
resources of our earth by our modern, technological,
industrial, consumer, throw-away society. In general terms
and global terms our modern industrialized society is
destroying our air, water, sunlight and soils, and causing
the extinction of a vast number of creatures that God has
placed on this earth with us. Every part of the globe and
every ecosystem on earth is now affected, in some instances
in an irreversible way.
There is a terrible problem with LAND. Poor land
management, overgrazing, chemical agriculture, crops of one
kind only, deforestation and population pressures have
caused soil poisoning, soil erosion and desert territory on
an alarming scale. About 3500 million hectares - an area the
size of North and South America are affected by land
degradation resulting in reduced cropping and ultimately
desert territory. Experts at Cornell University, New York,
estimate that world-wide about 85 billion tonnes of soil are
lost each year. Here in Australia from a total of 5 million
square kilometres used for agriculture and grazing, about
2.7 million square kilometres are affected by wind erosion,
water erosion, and salinity. Applying the brakes will
involve tree planting, improved farming techniques, organic
farming and better land use, with or without government
There is a terrible problem with WATER. Human activity is
polluting water in the oceans, rivers and lakes. More than
97% of all the water on earth is sea water. During the 1998
UNESCO Year of the Ocean it emerged that the oceans are
being seriously over-fished and polluted. Areas of the ocean
close to the continental shelf are contaminated with human,
agricultural, industrial and radioactive waste, much of it
toxic and carcinogenic. Because we human beings have tended
to treat the oceans as sewers, the Baltic, Mediterranean,
Black, Caspian, Yellow and South China Seas, are all
seriously damaged. Even Australia’s Great Barrier Reef,
which runs for 1,284 miles, is under threat to its coral and
sea creatures because of rising ocean temperature and
agricultural pollution. According to a report by the UN Food
and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1995, over 70% of the
world's marine fish stocks are either 'fully-to-heavily
exploited, overexploited, or slowly recovering'. Many
countries face problems in the supply of clean water for
domestic purposes including drinking.
There is a terrible problem is with AIR. Chemical
pollution is changing the composition of the earth's
atmosphere, destroying the ozone layer, producing climate
changes and exposing human beings to higher levels of
dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Concentration of carbon
dioxide, methane, carbons and other 'greenhouse' gases are
expected to increase by 30% during the next 50 years. This
build-up is likely to raise Earth's temperature by between
1.5 and 4.5 degrees centigrade by the year 2030. As the
oceans warm up and expand, sea levels will rise, leading to
ferocious storms and severe flooding over lowland areas.
Some of our Pacific Island neighbours must either evacuate
or perish. In the run up to the Kyoto meeting on climate
change in December 1997, there was a call for a 60%
reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The politicians
settled for a miserly 6%. Australia opposed even that.
Dependence on supplies of polluting oil for transport,
building materials, cars, plastics and pharmaceuticals,
means that our capitalist economies would simply collapse if
the oil wells run dry.
There is a terrible problem with FORESTS. Tropical
forests once covered 20% of the land area of the earth. They
are now disappearing at an extraordinary rate. An area
greater than the United Kingdom is cleared and destroyed
each year, for logging, cattle ranching and agriculture.
Since 1780 two-thirds of Australia's native forests and
three-quarters of our rainforests have been removed, with
drastic effects on land fertility, climate, rainfall,
agriculture, human health, the health of rivers and
estuaries, and the mega-extinction of species. In Australia
2,200 plant species are endangered, half of our mammals are
threatened, 10% of our native birds, 20% of our reptiles,
amphibians and freshwater fish. Mega-extinction is the
direct result of the expansion of the industrial economy
into fragile eco-systems like rainforests.
But so far too many of us have failed to even register
what is happening, let alone respond to it in sustained and
creative ways. How then, should we respond to the ecological
crisis, this passion of Mother Earth? Unless and until we do
so collectively and creatively, the question remains as the
elephant in the room.
Gleeson CP" <email@example.com>
Year B: 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
"Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs
grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is
One of the things I have to do from time to time in my
work as a doctor is to tell someone they are going to die.
Well, in one way, that is no great surprise. Sooner or
later, we are all going to die. And we will all die of
something. But it always comes as a shock to anyone to know
that they now have the disease which will probably kill
Telling someone that he is going to die is – for me – a
little like going to confession. I don’t really like doing
it. Truth hurts. Sometimes I feel like it hurts too much.
But afterwards, I feel better because I know it was the
right thing. Because every time I do it – every single time
– the person says ‘thank you’. And that is odd because
people don’t often thank doctors. Even when we do something
really good, like making a clever diagnosis, or managing to
cure some problem, people don’t often thank us. But every
time I tell someone they are going to die and there is
nothing ultimately that medical science can do about it –
every time they thank me.
Why is that? Well, I don’t rightly know... but I have to
think that it has something to do with the fact that we are
telling them something they already know. Most often people
have been sick for some time and they know perfectly well
what is happening to them. And the last gift their doctor
has to give them is honesty.
When I was training in geriatrics, one of the senior
consultants suggested I should come with him on what is
called a "domiciliary visit" – that’s when a hospital doctor
comes out to see a patient in his or her home. This patient
was an old lady of 92. Three months before, she had been fit
enough to dig the garden she had tended for the last 50
years. But gradually she had noticed herself, feeling very
tired, losing a lot of weight, her clothes suddenly becoming
too large for her and lumps appearing all over her skin. She
wanted to know what could possibly be causing this. As we
listened to her story, around her clustered protectively her
two daughters and her son-in-law.
My boss then did a very careful and thorough examination,
which took about half an hour. Then the lady went away for a
few moments to the toilet to tidy herself up. Instantly, the
two daughters and the son-in-law broke into passionate
argument imploring my boss that, if it was bad news, he
should not tell her, because she would not be able to cope
with it. They knew her well enough to know that she could
not possibly live with any bad news - they were her two
daughters and son-in-law. My boss looked at them very sadly
and said that he would only tell her what the patient
herself wanted to know.
When she came back in the room, he sat her down and said
very simply: "Mrs <Jones>, I have come here to find out what
is wrong with you. I think I know what it is. Do you want to
know what I think?"
There was a pause and then she replied: "Yes, doctor,"
she said firmly.
And I will always remember what he said – if you wonder
why, it’s because I’ve often recalled his words and wondered
if I would ever have the courage to say the same. This is
what he said:
"Mrs Jones, I think you have a very widespread cancer all
over your body. If you wish I can take you into hospital and
cause you a lot of pain and spend a good deal of the
country’s money doing a lot of tests to find out if I am
right or not. But I honestly think that I am right. So, if
you are prepared to trust my judgement, then here is my
telephone number. If you get any pain or any other problem
that you think I might be able to help you with, please call
it at once. Is there anything else you would like to ask
The two daughters and the son-in-law all collapsed in an
untidy heap. Mrs Jones ignored them. She smiled beautifully
and said: "No doctor. Thank you very much. You have helped
After that there was nothing more to be said and we left.
I never saw her again, but I happen to know that my boss
called her every week for months after that until she did
need help with her pain.
There are signs in our lives which, if we are willing to
pay attention to them, tell us all we need to know about
what is really happening with us – whether or not we are
really living well – living the lives God created us for.
But so much of our time is spent on other things – the daily
grind – the pinprick problems of everyday life – that we
forget those signs. Or worse, we try to pretend that they
are not there. But the truth is that we cannot pretend
forever. Sooner or later, reality bites. And then we have no
choice but to be honest and alone before God, offering him
the fruit of our lives.
Let us "Take the fig tree as a parable" of the shortness
of our own time on Earth and our need to use it well.
Let us stand and profess our Faith in God who shows us
how to live in His Light.
Dr Paul O’Reilly,
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and
insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is
Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.
-- Fr. John